Another Orchestra in Trouble: Players reject Louisville Orchestra offer

If the Bankruptcy of Philadelphia Orchestra wasn't bad enough, or the players strike in Detroit, now there's the ultimatum by management and rejection by the players in Louisville to shake up the classical music world.

Management offered a "per-service" model, basically stripping the musicians of collective bargaining. (which seems to be the trend, note Wisconsin) However more than 40 musicians and music patrons delivered letters and emails on Wednesday to the orchestra management. Gathered outside the orchestra offices, they answered questions about the progress.

The Louisville Orchestra filed for Chapter 11 back in December and have been without a contract since the end of may.

The letter, from CEO Robert Birman, was sent to players individually and as such could be grounds for a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board. The players, however, just want to get back to the bargaining table.

These kinds of labor struggles are unfortunately not new. Colorado Symphony players spent two years under an expired contract as they worked to finally ratify a new one last April, and their tickets sales were way up this year. Detroit Symphony's 2010-2011 season was shortened because of a strike. Since resolving the strike, the organization has added $8.5M in new money and sold 83% of it's tickets. Philadelphia Orchestra is facing contract negotiations after filing bankruptcy may require they replace their existing contract. The musicians have agreed to play until mid November, giving the organization time to determine if the existing musicians contract can stand.

It's not a happy time for orchestras; still, with Colorado and Detroit making it through and Philadelphia working on finding a solution there are bits of light in the tunnel.


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